The Fight Against Flooding: Today and Tomorrow

May 10, 2024 11:44:00 AM

Dubai fight against floodingThe UAE suffered dramatic floods recently, leading Imdaad’s team to aid the response from both short-term and long-term perspectives. The immediate response helped clients deal with the sheer volume of water, while the long-term response will explore how technology can make cities more resilient.

A Dramatic Day

April 16 brought the most rainfall in the UAE in 75 years. In the most affected location, Al Ain, more than 254mm of rain fell. That’s the equivalent of two years of average rainfall in a single day. The effect on the landscape was readily visible in European Space Agency satellite imagery.

Unsurprisingly, the results proved an incredible infrastructure challenge. Transport was the most publicised casualty, with flights canceled, roads flooded, and workers stranded at their offices. The iconic Sheik Zayed Road became filled with abandoned, waterlogged cars. Meanwhile, many properties were flooded and suffered power outages. 

Meeting The Challenge

The response saw the authorities, citizens, and industry come together to cope with the flooding. Imdaad used its facilities management expertise and equipment to help around 3,000 customers affected by the flooding.

This included attending over 200 callouts across Imdaad’s network. With a combination of 30 mobile dewatering tanks and 75 tankers, staff helped remove 500,000 cubic meters of rainwater. It was a mammoth operation, with staff sacrificing their time to make it a success. 

After this immediate work, Imdaad turned to less dramatic but equally important consequences. For example, they helped spread the word to customers of official warnings that flood water had spread into many ground and water tanks. That made it necessary to clean and sterilize tanks to mitigate the risk of poisoning and skin infection.

The Next Steps

While it will hopefully be many years before the UAE sees such as substantial day of rainfall again, the incident is a reminder of the risks of an increasingly volatile climate. It’s clear that simply hoping for the best or limiting capacity to dealing only with “normal” levels of water is no longer a realistic option.

Along with architects, construction companies, and city planners, facilities managers should play a key role in developing UAE’s infrastructure to deal with increased risk. FM companies have a unique insight into managing such risks on a day-to-day basis, as well as balancing the need to be ready for the worst outcomes while keeping to realistic budgets.

This will likely involve some truly innovative thinking and some sharing of ideas from elsewhere in the world. For example, The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has begun to develop “blue-green roofs” that cover the top of buildings with plants specifically designed to capture rainfall. The effect is likened to a sponge. In normal times, the captured water can be held and slowly released for use in domestic and industrial settings, for example, to flush toilets. When storms are forecast, a managed release can safely drain the water more rapidly. This returns the roof to its full capacity to soak up stormwater.

Such approaches require remote monitoring sensors (which naturally must be resilient to harsh conditions) and analysis tools. That’s something Imdaad already has experience in through its services such as monitoring swimming pools for water quality.


Amsterdam’s solution is just one approach, and it may prove less suited to the unique climate of the UAE. However, it shows how innovative thinking can combine with existing expertise and technology to meet the evolving challenges for infrastructure. With Imdaad you can be sure that we are investigating all possible avenues to making the built environment of the UAE ever more efficient and resistant to whatever climate conditions come our way. We look forward to playing a big role in such efforts, protecting our clients, our customers, and our wider society.